Skoda Superb 2020 long-term review
We all know it’s a fine executive as both saloon and estate, but can it hold its head high in £40k company? We report
*Why we ran it: *To see whether the latest Superb can cut it as an object of not only supreme practicality but also luxury
-Month 6 - Month 5 - Month 4 - Month 3 - Month 2 - Month 1 - Prices and specs-
-Life with a Skoda Superb plug-in hybrid: Month 6-
*Our mile-eating snapper has put three Superbs to the test. What’s the verdict? - 4 November 2020*
My three-model, in-depth getting-to-know-you session with what many in our office still regard as one of the most overlooked and underrated new cars on sale, the estimable Skoda Superb, is at an end. And, well, yes, I am a bit cut up about it, actually, mostly because I know that my next longterm test car is likely only to make me miss the big Skoda even more.
Life on the Autocar long-term test fleet is ever changeable. When you’ve had a doozie of a car – one almost perfectly suited to your purposes and plush enough to make you feel good about all those early starts and long motorway journeys – you can be pretty sure that your next car, as grateful for it as you will be, probably won’t suit you half as well. Well, you could say that I’ve had three cars in a row that suit me almost perfectly: the two diesel Superb Estates in which we began this voyage of discovery, and then the plug-in hybrid Superb iV hatchback that it now pains me so much to see depart.
The big questions that we wanted this test to resolve can be covered off pretty quickly. My answer to the first – is the hatchback so big and practical that the estate is actually redundant? – is an emphatic ‘no’.
The problem isn’t outright space so much as access. I live and operate out of my car pretty much five days per week, and the more easily I can just open the boot and grab any camera, tripod or flashgun that I happen to need, the better my day is. Good weather plays a part, as do punctual, considerate journalists with cars that I like, quite frankly. But believe me, I organise a boot like others might organise their office desk. Everything has its place.
In the estates, all of my bags could sit near the lip, where I could reach them easily, so I was always in and out quickly. But the hatchback’s boot wasn’t quite tall enough to take those bags in the same position, which meant I had to repack it an awful lot more. Several times on some days.
The only thing I came to dread about any of the Superbs I ran was the sound of the iV’s motorised bootlid failing to click home as it tried vainly to close itself on top of my gear. I actually ended up carrying some of my kit on the back seats.
That deals with the bodystyle issue. As regards engine and trim, there’s perhaps a little bit of room for debate but, allowing for the fact that our PHEV would cost a company car user about a third of the amount of a similarly specified 188bhp 2.0 TDI in benefit-in-kind tax, you would have to be opting out of your company car scheme or buying privately to justify the diesel. For high-mileage drivers, there are reasons you might, the diesel being 10-20% more economical on longer runs and having a bigger fuel tank being the main ones.
In the end, it was the adaptability and responsiveness of the iV that convinced me of its superiority, not its economy. But then I was always going to be an abuse test for any PHEV on that score: I live in busy London without off-street parking, and even if there were public chargers installed, I would be very lucky indeed to be able to use them.
Suffice to say, my opportunities for charging the iV and driving it in electric mode were limited. I’m assured that I was still the right man to run the car, because of my earlier experience with the other Superbs, and I’m very glad that I did. But the fact remains that if someone with a charger at home had been in the chair, the car’s average economy might have been twice as high.
Efficiency aside, the iV is just that much nicer to drive than the diesel. Quieter, obviously, but also much more responsive in the city, where the TDI 190 often was a bit slow-witted and reluctant to accelerate into a gap or to nip away from a standing start. I was quick to embrace the comfort it affords thanks to Dynamic Chassis Control (DCC) adaptive dampers. (A fifth of the iV’s purchase premium can be justified there alone, with regular Superbs of like-for-like trim levels only getting DCC for £1030.)
Passengers seldom, if ever, failed to remark on how smooth the ride was. Our second Superb had standard passive dampers, and I didn’t think the ride was really comparable. As I grew familiar with the Superb, I used its Sport driving mode more and more and got unexpected kicks out of quicker trips. The extra power and responsiveness of the powertrain, plus the DCC, gave the iV a surprising breadth of dynamic appeal.
The only thing that ever went awry with the iV was its infotainment system, which took to freezing and fell out with my phone for a while. An automatic wireless software update (not something I previously thought Skoda’s Amundsen system could even do) seemed to remedy that, so no dealer trip was needed after all.
And if I could do it all again? I would say ‘yes’ in a heartbeat. Give me an iV estate, please – albeit one in a ritzier colour than my hatchback, if possible, and with some optional wheel-mounted shift paddles.
I always knew Superbs were good, but the iV lived up to my expectations and more. It deserves much greater recognition, although I’m actually quite glad its greatness isn’t more widely appreciated, because knowing about it makes you feel like you’re in a secret member’s club of a kind. And I suppose that’s part of the appeal, too.
I loved all of Olgun’s many Superbs, the estates more than the hatchback. I’m less convinced of the iV’s superiority, though. I enjoyed the fully loaded, long-legged charm of the TDI 190 Laurin & Klement. It’s a shame that the estate’s rear seatbacks have the wrong 60:40 split for perfect right-hand-drive practicality; with a 40:20:40 split and that folding front passenger seat available I’d have probably bought one myself.
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*Hybrid powertrain *Much better than the slow-witted, noisier diesel. It lets you zip about town quietly and likes longer drives.
*Cushy ride *Adaptive dampers give a pillowy ride. I’d add them to any Superb, and the smaller the rims the better.
*smart-restrained looks *A brighter colour might have been nice, but Quartz Grey completed the Superb’s understated look well.
*Hatchback boot *Bulkier cargo has to be pushed right back out of reach. An Octavia Estate would have been more practical.
*Parking sensors *They’re too quiet and don’t mute the stereo before beeping. I’d definitely add the optional reversing camera
*Final mileage: 11,458*
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*Don't judge a book... - 7 October 2020*
A few colleagues asked recently if they could go on holiday in the Superb; when I told them the diesel had been replaced by a plug-in hybrid, suddenly they didn’t want it. I guess poor long-distance economy is expected. Meanwhile, time spent in Matt Prior’s Jeep makes me wish the Superb had a bit more life about it. That lack of character remains my biggest disappointment.
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-Life with a Skoda Superb plug-in hybrid: Month 5-
*Infotainment irregularities - 2 September 2020*
Technical problems have befallen the Superb’s infotainment. It’s the mid-level 8.0in Amundsen system, and it has started to freeze and crash about once a fortnight, requiring a reset. It recognises my iPhone only about 70% of the time, too. Wireless updates aren’t available (you need the top-spec system for that), so a dealer visit might be in order.
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*Experimenting with drive modes - 5 August 2020*
A family trip in the Superb was our first mass outing since lockdown. While I drove, both passengers fell fast asleep and stayed that way even over rough roads. I put that down to the pillowy ride when the DCC suspension is in Comfort mode, although the plush seats help, too. Between the cushy ride and the car’s refinement in EV mode, the Superb feels like a cut-price Rolls-Royce.
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Life with a Skoda Superb plug-in hybrid: Month 4
*An iV infusion would help improve our plug-in’s vital signs - 15 July 2020*
The disadvantages of not having my own home charger are quickly becoming apparent, I’m afraid.
Although I’ve been running this new plug-in hybrid Superb for a few weeks now, my current total of attempted plug-ins stands at just one. I say ‘attempted’ for good reason, too: as soon as I’d hooked the Skoda up to the Ecotricity motorway charge point I’d located on my way back from a day-long photoshoot, I discovered it wasn’t actually working.
Admittedly, this discovery didn’t come as much of a surprise, given the network’s known issues with reliability. And because I knew I could simply roll away again on petrol power alone, my encounter with the broken charger wasn’t the disaster it might have been had I rocked up in a pure EV. But even so, the fact that I’ve only really been able to reliably charge the Superb’s battery using energy drawn from its 1.4-litre four-pot engine while sitting on the motorway isn’t ideal.
So far, my average fuel consumption has been flitting between 40mpg and 41mpg. Given the fact there’s quite a lot of Skoda for the petrol engine to lug around largely by itself, that isn’t such a bad result. But it’s still a way off the Superb’s 201.8mpg claim, highlighting just how large the discrepancy between a PHEV’s claimed and real-world consumption figures can be if you don’t play to their strengths and use them in the correct manner – namely by charging them frequently.
For those owners with the luxury of dedicated off-street parking, the whole charging issue probably won’t even register. Chances are they’ll be able to install a home wallbox pretty easily, and they’ll be able to do so with a bit of government cash, too. But for those of us forced to park on already crowded residential streets without reliable charge-point access?
Well, it seems that electrified vehicles maybe aren’t 100% suitable for us just yet. If battery power is indeed the future, it appears charging infrastructure still has a way to go. Hopefully my borough council will install a few of those lamp-post chargers on my North London street in the next few months.
Aside from my (largely self-inflicted) charging grumbles, life with the Superb iV has been pretty great really. To my eyes, its saloon bodyshape is much sleeker than the comparatively boxy estates that I was running about in previously, and I think it looks particularly fetching in grey. It’s understated without being boring and smart without looking too ostentatious or flashy.
In short, it’s a tastefully attractive car – which is never a bad thing. It drives well, too. With Skoda’s Dynamic Chassis Control adaptive dampers fitted as an option, its ride is about as plush and comfortable as it gets at this price point. Combined with an electrified powertrain that, while not exactly exciting, is cleverly integrated and capable of delivering impressively instantaneous torque, wafting about in the Superb iV could never be deemed a taxing experience.
I can’t see myself ever feeling compelled to get up at the crack of dawn to take it for a thrash on the mountain roads of South Wales.
But on the flipside, if it’s still in my possession when lockdown eases a bit further and we’re once again able to head out that way for photoshoots, it will definitely make those 4am wake-up calls a bit easier to bear.
*Great ergonomics *Finding your ideal driving position couldn’t be easier. There’s a ton of adjustability in the seat base and the steering column has plenty of vertical and telescopic reach, too.
*hatchback boot *Getting everything to fit beneath that lower boot lid after months in an estate is trickier than I expected.
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*We’ve swapped our diesel estate for a petrol-electric plug-in hybrid hatchback - 1 July 2020*
Yes, this is indeed yet another Skoda Superb long-termer you haven’t seen before, and it’s one we hope will teach us more about the latest dimension added to the Czech brand’s portfolio. Welcome, then, to the iV petrol-electric plug-in hybrid.
This car comes after the 2.0 TDI 190 4x4 Laurin & Klement Estate with which we started this exercise and the 2.0 TDI 150 SE L Estate that we swapped into a few months ago. That the iV is a hatchback should give me good perspective on how much extra practicality is added by the estate bodystyle. Moreover, the fact it’s a plug-in hybrid will reveal how many sound reasons there might be, beyond the well-known company car tax advantages, for a typical UK driver to take the electrified version of this car in place of a typical diesel.
For me, the first question has to be how much more interesting to drive the Superb becomes simply by the addition of the hybrid powertrain. I didn’t have high expectations on this score, from what I had read about the Superb iV in our initial reviews.
As PHEVs go, this is one of the more ‘normal’ ones. But living in North London as I do, I am loving quietly creeping around the neighbourhood in EV mode and have rapidly become one of those strangely self-satisfied looking people who clearly feel smug about driving a car that has a plug. I’m not one of those people who can make much use of that plug, however. On-street parking means it is practically impossible for me to charge a car at home.
Being able to charge at home makes all the difference for any PHEV owner looking to save at the pump, as we know. In my case it will have to be done during my infrequent office visits but mostly on my travels as a photographer on the motorway, using the car’s Sport or Battery Charge driving modes, which really do punish the MPG indicator. At any rate, more on efficiency next time.
As for practicality, I’ve always been told that the Superb’s boot is huge regardless of bodystyle, but I’m finding otherwise. Filling the iV hatchback with my camera gear too often leaves the cargo bay short on height right at the lip. So unless I load carefully, the motorised bootlid often refuses to close when it encounters a soft bag that simply needs a squeeze.
That’s getting a bit annoying, but otherwise I’m enjoying being back in a Superb, driving around and doing my job, more now than I ever have.
*Dynamic chassis control *I love being back in a car with DCC adaptive dampers, which make the ride such a treat in Comfort mode.
*Normal by default *It seems you can’t lock the car in Comfort; it defaults to Normal every time it’s started. Perhaps I’ll find a way if I keep experimenting…
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-Life with a Skoda Superb Estate: Month 3-
*Another snapper passes judgement on our roomy wagon - 15 April 2020*
Fellow Autocar photographer Olgun was kind enough to leave the Skoda Superb for me recently while he went on holiday to far-flung parts, and I’m glad he did. I had a very comfortable, easy fortnight in the car before the lockdown hit. For a couple of reasons, I wasn’t quite as impressed with it as a utility car as some of my colleagues, but I did appreciate the long-distance touring manners.
I’m a tough crowd for the Superb in one respect: my last long-termer, regular readers may remember, was a Citroën Berlingo – which is just about the only vehicle that, by direct comparison, could make it seem that something might be missing from the Skoda for sheer utility value. The Superb offers plenty of space, definitely; if anything, it could afford to fill some of that with smart storage solutions, like the Citroën’s overhead bin-style roof locker.
Also, as road test editor Saunders likes to point out, it’s an imperfect right-hand-drive estate because the folding rear seatbacks are split 40/60 as you look at them from the boot opening; 60/40 would make for better through-loading flexibility, he says (although I’m usually asleep by the time he finishes saying it). I liked some of the detail design, though: the way the parcel shelf clicks neatly in and out of its mounting, for example, is curiously satisfying.
I did a couple of longer drives while I had it, to meet regular contributors on prettier roads than you tend to find in London, and I was a big fan of the comfortable high-speed stride the car adopts and how easily it munches down motorway trips.
I’d have a hard time wanting one enough to spend my own money, though. For me it’s really just a boot opening; 60/40 would make for an unremarkable car, and that’s the deal-breaker. I’d want something at least a little bit different – which, among lots of things, is what I liked about the Citroën. But left-field alternatives aren’t for everyone, and the Superb is certainly a whole lot of normal for the money.
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*A more subtle safety system - 1st April 2020*
The system that detects whether or not my hands are on the steering wheel doesn’t seem as sensitive in the red Superb as it was in the grey one. Given how frustrating that could be, this is a welcome discovery. And I might be imagining it, but the warning reminders don’t appear to be as harsh or intrusive either. I still miss the heated steering wheel of the Laurin & Klement, though.
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-Life with a Skoda Superb Estate: Month 2 -
*Easy cruiser - 25 March 2020*
A recent slog up to the far north of the country revealed just how adept this new 148bhp diesel-engined Superb is at long-distance cruising. As I mentioned last time, I’ve already seen improved fuel economy compared with that of the old 189bhp car in regular day-to-day use, but on this particular journey I averaged an impressive 60mpg without even trying. Lovely stuff.
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*Is this stand-in any less superb than our top-spec Skoda? - 18 March 2020*
You might have noticed that the Superb pictured here is a different colour to the one that’s graced these pages over the past few months. The reason for the switch is simple: the grey one was crashed into.
Now don’t worry, yours truly is fine – and the bloke in the van that hit me wasn’t hurt either. But the Skoda was a bit mushed; its rear bumper and hatch were looking particularly sorry for themselves, and in its battered state, there was no way I could reasonably expect it to carry on with its daily duties – at least until a repair job had been carried out.
So it was promptly collected by the good people at the Skoda UK press garage, and this red one arrived to take its place. And while I wasn’t exactly thrilled to see my bells-and-whistles, range-topping Laurin & Klement model taken away prematurely, this one’s arrival at least provides the perfect opportunity for an impromptu spec comparison. Silver linings and all that, I guess.
This new Superb is a 148bhp diesel SE L, a car that – in standard guise – comes with a price tag of £31,670. So it’s not exactly entry-level, then, but it’s a damn sight cheaper than the 187bhp, 4WD L&K model I’ve been running about in up until now. And while I’ve become rather accustomed to the luxurious level of kit that comes as standard on that £40,295 model (£41,845 after options), this one by no means feels spartan.
Crucially, it retains the heated front seats of the last car. In the middle of what has been a particularly cold and stormy winter, that’s a big win. Less of a win is the fact the heated steering wheel has disappeared, but I guess you can’t have it all all the time.
Meanwhile, the Virtual Cockpit has been replaced by traditional analogue dials and Skoda’s 8.0in Amundsen infotainment system steps in for the old car’s 9.2in Columbus unit. While I hardly need to squint to see the dials or the smaller touchscreen, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss the old car’s flashier screens at least a little bit.
Elsewhere, the SE L forgoes the adaptive dampers that come as standard on L&K cars. So the ride’s not quite as conspicuously cushioned as it was before, but as far as passive set-ups go, this is still a very good one. I’m less enamoured with the drivetrain, however.
Performance from the 148bhp engine obviously isn’t as strong as from the 187bhp model, and the DSG gearbox can still be frustratingly hesitant when you’d ideally like it to do its job and get you moving. But with power being sent exclusively to the front wheels rather than all four, my average fuel economy has been looking healthier. Where I was seeing 40-43mpg in the old car, this one is delivering better than 50mpg.
But it’s the 660-litre boot that remains the Superb’s defining feature. While the smaller hatchback would probably still carry all of my photography clobber with little bother, I love that with the estate I never have to think about whether or not something will fit. I simply open the boot, pack everything in and leave whatever sodden rural car park I happen to be based in for that particular photoshoot.
Admittedly, the Superb is still not the most interesting car to drive from an enthusiast’s point of view. But after a long day of hiding in bushes and taking pictures of the exotic machines the road testers constantly run about in, I can’t help feeling a bit smug about the fact that – come home time – the car I’ll drive away in will be infinitely more comfortable.
*Front-driven *Since switching cars, my average economy has increased and my fuel bills have decreased.
*Direct-shift gearbox *Hesitant transmission is still a sticking point when paired with this lower-powered engine.
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*Too eager to warn of almost-danger - 4 March 2020*
As phenomenally versatile as our top-spec Superb is, it’s not immune to the irritations of modern electronic safety systems. The emergency braking is particularly irksome, because a loud alert is triggered if it thinks you’re about to hit something, even when you’re only reversing slowly. Its ability to startle passengers is world-class.
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-Life with a Skoda Superb Estate: Month 1-
*A trip to the family business results in a grudging conversion - 26 February 2020*
Our Superb has been with us only six weeks, yet it has already settled into the kind of rhythm of service that makes very short work of the everyday. I’ve taken to describing it as being like a great cup of tea: it’s entirely ordinary but also entirely perfect in its own way, and it has a habit of making the apparently unbearable seem, well… just fine.
As I’ve been coming to appreciate, this car is both comfortable and comforting to use in a much bigger way than encompasses just its function. It eases the pain of a 5am start and a 150-mile schlep before breakfast very nicely indeed – and I have plenty of days when that particular talent is so greatly appreciated. There isn’t a journey on the planet from which it couldn’t remove stress – and that’s not simply because it’s so spacious, refined and compliant, but also because it’s so wonderfully easy to use.
The one thing it isn’t, though, as is already very plain to me, is special. The Superb is a car almost totally without ego. There is no sense of occasion about driving it; and if there was, the minor strain it might put on your brain to perceive it would likely feel entirely un-Superb-like.
And so, because it’s such a humble thing and you don’t feel inclined to take it on special trips to ‘nice’ places, I’ve made a mental note to ensure I do get it out and about a bit more than I have been. Every new car needs a fuss made of it, after all.
Trip number one was up to the Midlands to visit my folks – not least to find out what my dad, who’s a bit of a car buff himself, would make of the Superb. Dad’s a veteran of 35 years as a fish shop proprietor; and he clearly did much better at frying fish ’n’ chips in his younger years than I have at taking photos of cars, because 20-something years ago, he had a brand-new E36-generation BMW M3.
I was so keen to find out what he’d make of the Superb that I simply parked it in front of the chippy and let him make his mind up. He definitely liked what he saw – at least to begin with. He was interested; said it looked great; wanted to know more about it. And then I told him that it was a Skoda – and he insisted I move it away from the front of the shop immediately.
Dad has always been one for expensive German cars – BMWs and Mercedes, mostly – and, to be honest, his reaction didn’t surprise me. But I persisted. I showed him the sheer size of the Superb, the quality and richness of the interior and all of the on-board technology – and eventually he nodded that nod. It was the nod of a man who has inwardly realised he might have misjudged something, but possibly not seriously enough to admit as much to your face.
Every visit to the family chip shop ends in the same way: dad wishes you well and gives you a sack of surplus potatoes to take away with you. These slid into the Superb’s boot next to all of my uncommonly bulky photography gear with room to spare. Of course it did.
And then I wended my way home at much the same easy 40mpg stride at which I arrived, feeling like the Superb and I had done our bit both for Kordal family relations and Skoda’s international brand perception.
*Space exploration *It’s a big car, but I haven’t knowingly passed up a parking space in it yet; and I’ve yet to get anywhere near filling up it – either with cargo, rubbish or both.
*Lethargic engine *I’m not a fan of diesels of any kind, but the lethargic responses of this one really do annoy at times. I’m just going to have to slow my mental pace a bit…
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*No shortage of space yet - 19 February 2020*
The Superb’s capacious, 660-litre boot gobbles up my expansive collection of photography kit with the enthusiasm of a starved Cookie Monster and still has room to spare. Meanwhile, the car’s ride is otherworldly good; you can leave your ‘magic carpet’ at home. Whisper it, but from a purely pragmatic point of view, I think this might be the best long-term test car I’ve ever had.
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*Keep your hands where I can see them - 5 February 2020*
I’m frequently being told that I have surprisingly soft, dainty hands, which comes as a surprise given they’ve weathered their fair share of storms out on photoshoots. There must be some truth in this, however, as the Skoda constantly thinks I’ve removed my hands from the wheel when I haven’t, forcing me to give it a jiggle to let it know I’m still there.
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*Welcoming the Superb Estate to the fleet - 29th January 2020*
Ask the road testers of this magazine what they consider to be the greatest estate car on the planet and they’ll quickly say something along the lines of ‘Audi RS6 Avant’, followed more cautiously by ‘or a Skoda Superb’. Listen carefully and you might even hear the slight inflection placed on the second syllable of ‘Superb’. Because even when you happen to be the person making the claim, it still comes as a surprise that such an outwardly unremarkable machine might be the greatest of anything at all.
But we know that the Superb is remarkable, and especially in long-bodied form. This second iteration (there was no estate variant for the original Superb, introduced in 2001) gets strong but refined Volkswagen Group engines and even more cargo potential than the Mercedes E-Class Estate – a total behemoth and the reigning capacity champ at the luxury end of the market. The latest Superb also possesses a likeably understated exterior design of sharp yet unobtrusive creases, and inside you’ll find good perceived quality.
If this all seems overwhelmingly positive for what is only paragraph three of a fresh long-term test, my apologies, but I need to continue, because there is then the price. When our road testers gleefully fix their timing gear to the new RS6, there’s a good chance it will explode to 100mph and back before the entry-level Superb estate can even reach 60mph, but at almost £100,000, the Skoda’s big, bad, eight-cylindered cousin will cost four times as much.
And that has always been the magic of the Superb estate: considering what it can do, it’s exceptionally good value. Which is where this long-term test gets interesting. Our Superb has been ordered in range-topping L&K guise, which is an all-the-trimmings specification named after Václav Laurin and Václav Klement, the men who together founded Skoda (until 1925 known as Laurin & Klement) in the Kingdom of Bohemia (today the Czech Republic) back in 1895. Equipped with a 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel, seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox and four-wheel drive, it costs £40,295, which pushes it into the clutches of BMW’s 520d estate, which starts at £41,460 in SE trim. The BMW is similarly sized, similarly powerful (184bhp plays 187bhp, in the Skoda’s favour) and is an exceptionally good everyday car.
What we are therefore going to find out is whether, in 2020, Skoda can compete directly with the Bavarians, which is something that possibly hasn’t happened since (and please don’t quote me on this) Václav Bobek’s 1100cc Skoda Supersport beat the bigger-engined Formula 2 BMW of Zdenek Sojka during the 1950 Czechoslovak Grand Prix at Brno. One imagines a few corks were popped from bottles of Bohemia Sekt that evening, and if our Superb can score a recommendation over the 520d SE, it’ll be a similar story, albeit one unfolding at Skoda’s UK public relations offices in Milton Keynes.
One thing in the Skoda’s favour is that it is positively overflowing with kit, much of it genuinely useful. Take, for example, the flashlight and 12V adaptor I’ve already found in the boot, and the umbrella compartments in the front doors.
The ‘key’ features list runs the length of an A4 page but, as far as we’re concerned, the most important elements are the adaptive cruise control, 10-speaker Canton sound system, 9.2in touchscreen display, matrix LED headlights and rear parking camera (useful because the car is longer than a VW Passat, although shorter than an Audi A6 et al). We’ll touch on items such as the ‘virtual pedal’, voice command and park assist, and their usefulness or otherwise, in future reports.
Meanwhile, elements such as the privacy glass, gloss black interior inserts and scrolling indicators are a matter of personal taste. My opinion is this L&K looks like a car most of us would be proud to own.
However, if the Superb estate really is to box above its traditional utility division, ride comfort and rolling refinement will need to play the biggest part. Further to this, with so much equipment to transport and the need for that transport to double up as a stable platform from which to shoot car-to-car ‘tracking’ shots on the move, automotive photographers like myself crave cavernous estates with a magic-carpet ride.
In this case, my first impressions have been very good, the combination of Skoda’s non-Sport chassis, adaptive DCC dampers and the long wheelbase generating pliancy that easily betters many cars with expensive air suspension. In an era when you can find 19in wheels even on a supermini, the Superb’s unique (and somewhat inelegant) 18in Propus Aero alloy wheels also look a wise decision, and with such big wheel arches to fill, there’s plenty of sidewall to absorb tired British roads. Admittedly, go too fast and the vertical control movements seem to pay homage to Citroën’s egg-caressing 2CV, but it’s a worthwhile compromise and with DCC there’s always the option of firming up the suspension when I’m in a rush. Which, in fairness, is more often than not.
Take it as read, then, that our new Superb will prove useful in the months we have it. Early indications are that its diesel engine is also capable of delivering excellent fuel economy, so for motorway driving, it seems to be just the ticket. But are its formidable kit list and attempted air of luxury enough to tempt us away from more aristocratic rivals? We’ll soon find out.
When you consider this car’s spec and capability, £40,000 doesn’t feel unduly expensive in objective terms. It’s subjectively that the sometimes cold Superb could come unstuck compared with a BMW 5 Series, of which even the most basic versions ride and handle with a finesse that any enthusiast can appreciate. That said, the effortless way in which the Skoda’s suspension lowers the rear axle down from sleeping policemen is nothing less than sublime.
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-Skoda Superb IV SE L specification-
*Prices: List price new* £36,090 *List price now* £36,090 *Price as tested* £37,160 *Dealer value now* £26,470 *Private value now* £23,529 *Trade value now* £21,578 (part exchange)
*Options:*Metallic paint, Quartz Grey £595, Virtual Cockpit £475, 18in Zenith alloy wheels £0 (no-cost option)
*Fuel consumption and range: Claimed economy* 211mpg *Fuel tank* 50 litres *Test average* 40.2mpg *Test best* 47.8mpg *Test worst* 35.1mpg *Real-world range* 442 miles petrol, plus 28 miles electric
*Tech highlights: 0-62mph* 7.7sec *Top speed* 138mph *Engine* 4 cyls in line, 1395cc, turbocharged, petrol, plus electric motor *Max power* 215bhp *Max torque* 295lb ft *Transmission* 6-spd dual-clutch automatic *Boot capacity* 485-1610 litres litres *Wheels* 8Jx18in, alloy *Tyres* 235/45 ZR18, Continental ContiSport Contact 5 *Kerb weight* 1655kg
*Service and running costs: Contract hire rate* £328.38 *CO2* 30g/km *Service costs* xxx *Other costs* none *Fuel costs* £1144 *Running costs inc fuel* £1156 *Cost per mile* 13 pence *Depreciation* £14,512 *Cost per mile inc dep’n* £1.77 *Faults* Intermittent infotainment system crashes
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